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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Edge of your seat suspense

What’s the difference between a suspense book and an “edge of your seat, turn-paging” suspense book?

I’d like to explore that question today. For as long as I can remember, my favorite genre has been romantic suspense and suspense thrillers. I’ve come to expect twists and turns to keep me guessing until I turn the last page. And now that I write in these genres, I promise to draw my readers into a whirlwind of suspense and intrigue. Here are some of the elements that I look for and promise to deliver in my books:

1. Desolate setting

2. Captivating storyline that will hook the reader right from the start

3. Spine-tingling background music that will draw the reader into the story

4. Quirky or obsessive character traits that will identify the character as unique

5. Heroine that reader can empathize with and scream for her to be rescued by the romantic hero!

6 Romantic hero with a “Don’t mess with me” attitude that isn’t above cutting corners

7. Villain that we love to hate

8 Dialogue interspersed with atmospheric description to make us feel, see, hear, smell, taste and touch

9 Twist and turns to make the reader gasp

10Sizzling chemistry between the lovers

11. The ability to make the reader laugh and cry and cheer when the hero rescues the heroine at the last minute and whisks her away into the happily-ever-after

I’d like to show you a few of these examples in my newly released suspense book Mask of the Betrayer. In the opening scene, the killer is programmed to kill the betrayer at midnight. He has been programmed to do this through music. The “Hunting Song” plays in his head during a kill.

“A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go. Heigh-ho the dairy-o, a hunting we will go. We’ll kill a fox and put him in a box. Heigh-ho the dairy-o, a hunting we will go.”

Thinking of the nursery rhyme, doesn’t this song play in your head, drawing you into my book?

The setting for Mask of the Betrayer is set in Red Rock Canyon, a desolate mountain range within miles of the dazzling Las Vegas Strip. Here is a scene to draw the reader into the setting, and show you the villain’s (Michael DeVeccio) obsessive trait.

Pouring himself two fingers of finely-aged bourbon, billionaire business tycoon Michael DeVeccio walked on the verandah of his mansion and gazed into the foothills. The raw beauty of the Red Rock Mountains encompassed him. Miles of open valleys and rugged terrain and lush forests full of petrified logs the Paiute Indians believed to be weapons of the wolf gods stretched as far as the eye could see. And what a rush to climb to the top of the mountain and survey the dazzling Vegas Strip like king of the jungle.

Fishing a Marlboro from the pack, he tapped it three times on the parapet before lighting it. He inhaled deeply, allowing the nicotine to filter into his brain. Under the hunter’s moon, night predators slithered out of the underbrush, just on the periphery of the jagged twists and turns of the canyon. From deep in the woods, a coyote howled, its keening wail slicing through the quiet. Michael loved the call of the wild. The primitive cries got under his skin, arousing him. Dominant and defiant, animals fought to protect what belong to them. He especially admired the sleek moves of the panther. With its keen eyesight, acute hearing, and uncanny ability to sneak up on its prey unnoticed, it pounced on its victim in one slick move. Michael understood the moves of the night predators. He was one of them.

Sizzling chemistry to feed the romance lover in you! The following is the scene where Margot and Michael meet:

The beckoning wail of sax drifted out of the piano bar, the bluesy sound of jazz bristling beneath her skin. After spending the better part of the afternoon negotiating at an art auction, unwinding over a chilled martini sounded like utter bliss. Seduced by the sound of sax, she sauntered up the three steps leading to the mezzanine and ordered a Pomegranate martini.

“You got it, doll,” the bartender winked.

“Whatever the pretty lady wants is on the house,” the man approaching the bar said in a buttery soft voice. “And give me a bourbon on the rocks, Jazz.”

Margot turned around and came face to face with the billionaire tycoon of DeVeccio Plaza. His shocking blue eyes left her breathless. With his sharply defined features, full sensual lips, and all that black wavy hair, he reminded her of one of the sculptured Greek gods she’d featured last month at her gala.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he said. “I’m Michael DeVeccio. Welcome to my palace.”

Every pulse in her body was as charged as an electrical current. Michael DeVeccio, legendary for building luxury resorts in every continent, exuded strength and power from every pore. His world renowned success preceded him. And here he stood in front of her in all his glory, one hundred and eighty pounds of raw, sexual energy. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she met his gaze. “I’m Margot Montgomery. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Your resort is everything it’s rumored to be, simply breathtaking.”

“Thank you.” he edged a bit closer. “I’ve always fancied it to be the jewel of the Strip. I didn’t think anything could outshine DeVeccio Plaza. But I was wrong. Nothing could possibly hold a candle to the sparkle in your emerald green eyes.”

As the hot sound of jazz drifted through the piano bar, a warm desert breeze blew in from open terrace doors, the seductive undertone thick and heavy. The sassy wail of sax and the sweet lilt of piano counterpointed, stirring the air with its sensual rhythm.

Here is a teaser when the homicide cop Diego Santiago (romantic hero) knows Michael is the serial killer and comes to question him:

“Detective Santiago,” Michael yelled down. “And what brings you calling so early in the morning? Out for a leisurely cruise around the neighborhood? Or perhaps you’ve come to extend your congratulations to the newlyweds?”

“Cut the bull, DeVeccio,” Santiago barked. “There’s been another murder in the foothills, and guess whose corpse I just sent down to the morgue?”

“I have no idea. Do I look clairvoyant? Why don’t you fill me in on the mystery corpse? Otherwise, we could be here all day guessing whose body is on a slab in the morgue. And as intriguing as that sounds, I have a meeting in an hour.”

“If you could drag yourself away from your gourmet breakfast,” Santiago bellowed, his voice echoing through the stillness of the woods. “How about coming down here and answering a few questions. And FYI, DeVeccio. It looks like the Red Rock Slasher is back in business. But that shouldn’t surprise you since you knew Russel Harrison didn’t kill your ex-wife. You framed him for the murder and we both know who the real killer is. Take a look at yourself in the mirror on the way down. He’ll be staring right back at you.”

When Margot realizes she is married to the killer, she runs to the homicide cop. He writes a song for her, My Sweet Margarita

As soon as Margot got out of her car, she heard the gentle strumming of a flamenco guitar. The melodious lilt of the Latin music drifted through the air, soft and sweet. Drawn to it, she ran up the steps and peered into the round arched window. Mesmerized by what she saw, she stared in awe.

Bathed in sunlight, Diego sat in front of a fireplace, tenderly holding the small guitar. He strummed the strings with outward flicks of his fingers, producing a rhythmic roll reminiscent of castanets. Silhouetted in partial sunlight and partial shadows, he gently caressed the lustrous neck of the wooden guitar.

When the song ended, Margot quietly knocked at the door, feeling as if she’d finally come home.

Even before Diego opened the door, he knew it was her; the beautiful woman with the bewitching green eyes. Even if he hadn’t heard the sound of her tires in the driveway, even if he hadn’t caught a glimpse of her watching him through the window, he would have sensed her presence. And knowing she was watching him, listening to him play the love song he’d written for her made it all the sweeter. With his heart thumping, he flung the door open and pulled her into his arms.

“I had to come,” she said in a breathless voice, feeling his muscles quiver and bunch beneath her fingers. “Oh, Diego. I had no idea you played the guitar. And with such finesse. What a beautiful song, so bitter-sweet.”

Diego’s broody brown eyes grew dark with passion. “I wrote it for you. I call it my Sweet Margarita.”






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Sharon Donovan

Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith


Sharon Donovan said...

I hope I've given some examples of what you can expect in my suspense books! Oliver will be happy to pour you a cup of coffee or tea while you visit on my blog. Have some freshly baked chocolate chips, his specialty. And it goes without saying, the bar is always open. Belly up, my friends

P.L. Parker said...

I need a good shot - this story gives me the chillies - but sounds wonderful.

liana laverentz said...

Congratulations again on the release of Mask of the Betrayer, Sharon. I think I'll have one of those pomegranate (sp) martinis. Then again, if I can't spell before I have one, I'll be no good after....

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy, two fingers of bourbon coming right up. Oliver winks!

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Liana! Here comes Oliver with your martini. He can't spell it either but he can sure mix one up. Cheers!

Debra St. John said...

Yep, definitely spine tingling!

Great post, as always, Sharon.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Debra! A bit chilling, huh? That's why it's called a spine-tingler. LOL

Mary Ricksen said...

I can't wait!! Scare me! I dare you!!!
Oliver could I please have my, you know, strawberry coolata, no cookies. The last time I started on your cookies I ate a dozen and gained ten pounds. Well maybe just one?

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver snickers as he brings Mary a strawberry coolata, with a grin. Here you go, love.

Liz Fichera said...

I love stories set in the American Southwest! You can't get much more desolate than that. Desolate and beautiful at once. Great post, Sharon!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Liz, thank you so much! Yes, Red Rock Canyon is so desolate, with the raw beauty all around the dazzling Vegas Strip just beyond. I'm glad you enjoyed the teaser! I enjoy the setting, too. That's why I chose it, and what better place for a suspense?

Laurean Brooks said...

Who else can take you inside the characters' heads, make you feel their fear, pain, love...then set you up with a spooky scene where your teeth chatter, your heart races?

To top it off, you are tempted to search your closets and under your bed for a nasty villian. Brrrrrr!

Good job, Sharon.

Sharon Donovan said...

Laurie! LOL You make me laugh and blush at the same time. Thank you so much. You know what? I'm probably the one that will have the nightmares and start checking under the bed and closets. LOL

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Sharon! It's your midnight killer! I mean, Caller!!
Dropping in a tad bit earlier than the midnight hour, but still late as usual.

You've picked some great excerpts from the story to to catch a glimpse behind the mask.

Sharon Donovan said...

Julie! Now you know Oliver has to search you for the still missing Zorro sword. The jury is still out on whether or not you are the midnight killer. In the meantime, here's a rum&coke on the house!